Ashes: England turn to debutants in desperate search for answers

England are tipped to field their most debutants in an Ashes Test in more than 20 years as beleaguered captain Alastair Cook vowed he will continue to do things his way despite calls mounting for him to change.

The visitors are to hand Test debuts to Gary Ballance, Scott Borthwick and Boyd Rankin but Jonny Bairstow is set to remain behind the stumps despite Michael Clarke's belief Matt Prior would be given a recall. Not since the third Test of the 1993 series, when four were blooded, has England started so many new players in an Ashes Test.

As a seasoned international, Cook knows a captain will be judged solely by results – he said exactly that at the start of the tour – but whereas the scoreline was once a strong defence to criticism of his captaincy it is now being construed as evidence of his shortcomings.

One loss away from becoming only the third captain in Ashes history to lead his team to a 5-0 whitewash, Cook has acknowledged England's anguish this tour has forced introspection.

More will be done once the series is over but Cook has acknowledged mistakes have been made. He has even conceded Shane Warne, the most vocal critic of Cook's defensive style, might be right with aspects of his critique but does not expect him to transform into an audacious and impulsive risk-taker overnight, if at all.

"I have to be the man I have to be, that is true to me," Cook said.

"I can't change because Shane Warne says I need to change totally. I can certainly look at the stuff he says and he might have a point on some of it. But if I listen to every single person then your whole mind gets muddled anyway.

"You've got to be true to yourself, I have to do it the way I think is best for me and this England side."

Losing was largely an alien concept for Cook when he arrived on these shores in October, unbeaten with four wins in his five series in charge but, unfortunately for the 29-year-old, it is now proving the norm rather than the exception.

Calls for his sacking have been predictable though there are few, if any, viable alternatives for England's selectors to turn to should they wield the axe. Losing hurt, Cook said, and it was difficult not to be affected by the intense scrutiny on such a big tour.

"You know all the criticism when you lose is exaggerated and it's always hyperbole when you win because that's the way the media work," Cook said. "It's something I've been used to in my career so far and it'll happen to every kind of guy who plays a lot of Test cricket.

"For me to say I'm 100 per cent right would be wrong but I am proud of the way I've handled myself this series, but I do know I've got a helluva lot to learn as a player and a captain and I'm hoping we can put in a good performance these five days."

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